|“Could you please take off your hat in the house?” the dame said. First thing out of her mouth when I walked in. Tough cookie. I figured she wouldn’t even look at my badge, so I didn’t bother. She stared at me with twin light blue daggers. I stared back. Blonde hair cascading in curls around cheekbones you could sit on. I took my hat off but kept the trench coat on.
“Why are you here?” she asked.
“A tip,” I said. I spotted something past the dining room through the kitchen doorway. I pointed that way with my hat and said, “May I?”
Her blue eyes clouded for a second, then rolled up. Punching out an exaggerated sigh, she said, “Go ahead.” Sarcasm, I thought. Not so smart from a dame in her position right now.
Passing the dining room table, I noticed a red blotch on the carpet. Big one. I squatted down for a look, ran my fingers across it. Faded, but still damp. “What happened here?”
Big shrug. “I spilled tomato soup. I’m trying to get out the stain.”
I nodded and headed for the kitchen. Four items on the counter. Bottle of cleaner. One of those carpet wands from late-night TV ads. Sponge, blue, extra large. Plastic gloves.
I spun on her. “This doesn’t look very good for you. I know it, you know it, and you know I know it. Your husband’s whereabouts – kind of a mystery, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” she said. “It is. His insurance office doesn’t close till 5:00, but here he is, home at 4:30.” She turned me around and gave me a pat and a little shove. “Now why don’t you go into the den and watch The Maltese Falcon for the hundredth time? I’ve got work to do here.”
(Word count: 300)